Eritrea’s 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan mentions certain terms without explicitly providing definitions. These terms include: Information and Communications Technology (ICT), e-learning, ICT in Education, distance learning. While the National Education Sector Plan doesn't explicitly define these terms, they are commonly understood within the broader context of education and technology integration.
Constitution and laws: Article 21 of the 1997 Constitution states that “The State shall endeavor, within the limit of its resources, to make available to all citizens health, education, cultural and other social services”. The same article refers to the development of “technology” but only in the context of science, arts, and sports.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan mission is “to provide a Quality and Relevant education consistent with the National aspirations to all Eritrean” in alignment with targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). In regards to information and communications technology (ICT), the Sector Plan aims to develop the technology infrastructure, and facilities, and provide e-Learning options. In addition to that, teachers training on teaching and learning is essential in ICT to raise the standard of educational services and enhance students’ participation, learning, and performance. To reform education in that direction, the MOE already launched an ICT in education initiative in January 2005 to incorporate ICT as a tool in teaching, teacher training, learning, curriculum development and education management in schools. Despite these efforts, the document affirms that is still challenging to incorporate ICT in education due to the lack of ICT facilities and equipment, and inadequate training for teachers “The Government of the State of Eritrea has given top priority to the production of high–quality human capital which is highly trained and capable of mastering and exploiting available technology for socio-economic development of the country”.
The 2002 Eritrean Science and Technology Development Agency (ESTDA) Establishment Proclamation serves as a framework for the development of science and technology in Eritrea. It outlines several key objectives and responsibilities of the agency, including building up national capability for research and development in Science and Technology, coordinating the contributions of Eritrea in Science and Technology development activities, establishing Science and Technology Education Institutions and overseeing their development and continued proper functioning, and promoting and coordinating the application of Science and Technology in the overall development of the country. The proclamation also mentions the establishment of an Office of Science and Technology Services Coordination that deals with all aspects of Science and Technology education.
Digital competency frameworks: No information has been found.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The UNESCO global monitoring of closures demonstrates that schools were closed from the end of March 2020 till April 2021. Other than that, no other changes had happened.
According to the 2020 UNICEF Eritrea Country Office Annual Report, the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Eritrea is focused on addressing the digital divide and building capacity at its media education center. This is in response to the difficulty in developing educational programmes for broadcast on radio and TV to reach primary school learners during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the limited resources and unequal access to digital tools.
By March 2020, the UNICEF office in Eritrea received a Global Partnership for Education grant of $70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in its response plan, an alternative delivery system and risk communication.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: Eritrea is focused on improving access to electricity by shifting towards renewable energy sources. Around 50.3% of the population currently has access to electricity, with efforts underway to increase electrification rates in both urban and rural areas. The country's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emphasizes a transition away from fossil fuels to renewables like solar and wind power, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable technologies. Eritrea is actively engaging in partnerships and community-based initiatives to implement renewable energy solutions, create jobs, and enhance services in schools and healthcare facilities. The government recognizes the importance of affordable technology and inclusivity in achieving a sustainable energy transition. By aligning its recovery strategy with climate action plans, Eritrea aims to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan states that the availability of electricity is mainly concentrated in major cities and their surrounding areas, while remote areas currently lack access to any form of electricity unless community members can install diesel power generators. The most pressing challenges regarding ICT in education in Eritrea are the insufficient coverage of electricity and telecommunications network infrastructure. Consequently, this limitation has a significant impact on the expansion of ICT in education in rural schools, resulting in a digital divide and educational disparities. Addressing this issue, the second objective outlined in the plan focuses on ensuring equitable access to ICT services for remote and rural schools through the implementation of Solar Power Systems.
According to a 2018 UNDP Article, Eritrea embarked on a solar-powered project to bring modern, affordable, and sustainable energy to rural areas that are not served by the national grid. The project aims to benefit approximately 40,000 residents and businesses in the rural towns of Areza and Maidma, located in the Southern Debub region. In addition to these towns, the initiative also includes 40 villages, over 500 small enterprises, 15 schools, 2 kindergartens, 2 community hospitals, and 5 health stations. By implementing solar power solutions, Eritrea is leveraging renewable energy sources to provide electricity to communities that would otherwise have limited access. This project has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for residents and support the development of businesses and essential services in these rural areas.
Computers and devices: The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan recognizes that electricity is essential for the installation of computers and devices. However, it acknowledges that the cost of ICT equipment and facilities poses a challenge, and many schools still face the issue of inadequate ICT resources for effective teaching and learning. In some instances, this challenge is further exacerbated by the lack of proper management and maintenance practices. The plan emphasizes the need to address these concerns to enhance ICT infrastructure and ensure optimal utilization of technology in education. By focusing on improving resource allocation, implementing effective management strategies, and promoting maintenance practices, the plan aims to overcome the existing challenges and create an environment conducive to quality teaching and learning experiences. Moreover, the plan suggests using solar power systems of 5 KW in education offices that have no power supply and solar power systems of 10 KW in schools to support distance education programmes.
According to the 2023 The Digital Future of Eritrea: Strategies for Expanding Internet Access, the government has prioritized digital literacy and technology utilization. In 2019, a program was initiated to provide laptops to high school students, aiming to enhance digital skills and equip students with the necessary tools for success in a digital era. These efforts collectively demonstrate the government's commitment to bridging the digital divide and promoting digital inclusion in Eritrea.Top of FormBottom of Form
Internet connectivity: The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan acknowledges that there are challenges related to the frequency and bandwidth of internet connectivity, particularly in remote areas. However, objective three of the plan demonstrates a proactive approach to address this issue. One of the key goals outlined in objective three is to establish internet connectivity, e-mail, and website services for schools. This indicates a commitment to bridging the digital divide and ensuring that educational institutions across the country have access to essential online resources and communication platforms. By prioritizing the establishment of reliable internet connectivity, the plan aims to enhance educational opportunities and enable schools to leverage the benefits of digital technology in teaching and learning.
According to the 2023 The Digital Future of Eritrea: Strategies for Expanding Internet Access, the Eritrean government has recognized the significance of Internet access and has implemented measures to expand its availability. This includes the launch of a national fiber optic network in 2018, connecting major cities and towns to improve internet speeds and reduce costs. Public internet cafes have also been established in major cities, offering affordable access to those who cannot afford it at home.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
According to the 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan, the Ministry of Education plans to provide Open and Distance Learning Programmes (ODLP) to certificate and diploma levels. The MOE plans to enhance and expand the provision of continuing education, be it academic courses or vocational skills training, to sustain literacy and post-literacy achievements in the country.
According to the 2020 UNICEF Eritrea Country Office Annual Report, UNICEF supports and ensures the delivery of catch-up programmes, integrating media and ICT-based technologies to facilitate remote and distance learning and supplement organized in-school instructions when schools reopen. “UNICEF advocated for school reopening, with safety protocols in place, to ensure learning continuity. Consequently, MoE reopened 102 classrooms for students in their final year of secondary education. Furthermore, UNICEF partnered with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to support distance-learning programmes and provided textbooks and learning materials for home learning for the students. In addition, the MoLSW coordinated with the MoE to procure educational supplies for 7,220 children in need, including children living on the streets, to assist in their return to school”.
The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan mentions the importance of ICT integration in education and the need to ensure mastery of basic ICT skills among students and teachers as a basis for utilizing ICT as a tool for teaching and learning. It also highlights the need to improve students' engagement, learning, and achievement through contemporary learning skills of the 21st century such as information access and processing, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving which are essential in preparing learners to thrive in networked knowledge societies and succeed in economies that are increasingly reliant on technology. However, while significant efforts have been made to deploy ICT resources in schools, a significant digital divide within and between different school levels and geographical locations of the country remains a challenge.
The Education Sector Plan also recognizes the importance of providing all Eritreans with access to education services, including technical and vocational training (TVET) to increase access to skills development opportunities. The plan also highlights government efforts to enhance the enrolment and participation of girls in education through various means, including material and financial incentives to school girls, constructing gender-segregated toilets, opening boarding and para-boarding schools, and developing communication strategies for girls' education. Consequently, raising gender awareness among communities and teachers is necessary to successfully mainstream gender education, which would require, among other things, expanding the number of female teachers in schools, undertaking training and mobilization campaigns, and formulating gender awareness training materials to sensitize communities and teachers about gender issues and the socio-cultural practices that hamper the participation of girls and women in education.
The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan sets forth objectives aimed at enhancing teacher training without casting any negative light on the country. One objective is to strengthen the pedagogic practice of teachers and school directors by providing in-service training. In Eritrea, teacher training is facilitated by institutions such as the Asmara Community College of Education and the College of Education at the Eritrea Institute of Technology. These institutions offer both initial training for aspiring teachers as well as in-service training for experienced educators. While the plan does not specifically mention digital skills training, it is important to note that teacher training programs encompass a range of subjects and teaching methodologies to equip educators with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their profession. By emphasizing the importance of pedagogic practice and providing in-service training opportunities, the plan demonstrates a commitment to continuous professional development and ensuring the quality of education in the country.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Article 18 of the 1997 Constitution affirms the fundamental right to privacy for every individual. It states that every person shall enjoy the right to privacy, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding personal privacy within the legal framework of Eritrea.
Eritrea has acceded to Article 16 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) without any declarations or reservations. Article 16 recognizes the right of the child to privacy. This signifies Eritrea's commitment to protecting children's privacy in all matters concerning their personal life, family, and correspondence. By acceding to this article, Eritrea affirms its dedication to ensuring the privacy rights of children within its jurisdiction.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Eritrea's accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) without any declarations or reservations implies its commitment to upholding other provisions related to children's rights. This includes Article 17(e), which acknowledges the child's right to access information and material from various sources. It emphasizes the importance of providing children with age-appropriate information that promotes their social, cultural, and educational development. Moreover, Eritrea's accession also encompasses Article 34(c), which addresses the protection of children from sexual exploitation.
Eritrea has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography “calling for the worldwide criminalization of the production, distribution, exportation, transmission, importation, intentional possession and advertising of child pornography, and stressing the importance of closer cooperation and partnership between Governments and the Internet industry”. By acceding to this protocol and the aforementioned articles, Eritrea demonstrates its commitment to addressing the issues of child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography, ensuring their safety and well-being in this regard within its jurisdiction.
As stated in the 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan, the development of ICT in Education policies, curriculum development, capacity building, budgetary planning, disbursements, and reporting are all under the authority of the Ministry of Education which is composed of: the Minister's Office, five departments, and six regional (Zoba) education offices make up its organizational structure.
The five departments are: (1) the Department of General Education, (2) the Department of Adult Education and Media, (3) the Department of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, (4) the Department of Research and Human Resources Development and (5) the Department of Administration and Finance.
The management and supervision of the educational system in each region is the responsibility of the (Zoba) education offices. The school management office/unit and the Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs) are in charge of the overall school management and school development activities.
The 2018-2022 National Education Sector Plan schools are expected to provide a range of curriculum materials and support systems to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. The Ministry of Education (MoE) provides textbooks to schools, and the policy guidelines state the textbook-student ratio in each subject. In addition, school support systems such as library facilities, laboratory facilities, computers, and teaching aids are necessary to ensure the provision of equitable and quality education. However, many schools lack sufficient resources and facilities, especially in rural areas.